An undercover exposé by the controversial group Project Veritas last week supposedly revealed that hundreds of Twitter employees have full access to everything you do on the social network. Twitter disputes those claims. It says the statements Project Veritas publicized are misleading and incorrect.
“We do not proactively review DMs. Period,” a company spokesperson said to BuzzFeed News. “A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict access protocols for those employees.”
A member of Project Veritas met with one of Twitter’s senior network security engineers, Clay Haynes, secretly recording and then publicly sharing clips of their conversation. In the edited video, Haynes appears to believe he’s meeting someone with regards to an investigation by the Department of Justice over President Donald Trump’s Twitter activities. Haynes said that Twitter was happy to cooperate with the investigation, and could turn over all of Trump’s tweets. That included ones he’s deleted, as well as DMs and mentions. Follow-up videos with other Twitter employees—also apparently filmed under false pretenses—have since been released.
Twitter told the International Business Times the company only responds to “valid legal requests” and is “is committed to enforcing our rules without bias.” Twitter also commented on Project Veritas’ methods, calling it “deceptive and underhanded.”
In a conversation with BuzzFeed, one former senior Twitter employee agreed with the company’s statements regarding the videos, but did admit that recorded employee’s statements were “technically accurate to a degree, but exaggerated.” That former employee said that most of Twitter’s moderation is conducted by an algorithm.
The Project Veritas-uploaded videos feed into growing conservative fears that tech companies are targeting and silencing right-wing figures. Issues such as the firing of Google’s James Damore, author of the now infamous Google Memo, feed into that belief, as well. Some conservative sites recently claimed that Google’s new fact-checking module unfairly targets only right-wing sites.
Some feel that the fact that Project Veritas is going after Twitter is a successful sign that the company is finally doing some things right with regards to content moderation—even if it’s making some conservative Twitter users cry foul.